Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home Safe & Sound... and a Little Overwhelmed

We met them at Spinks airport as they flew in last Sunday, at least we tried to. We saw Steve's plane fly right over us on 1187, but somehow by the time the kids and I turned into the small airport, the guys were already in the car and headed to Sonic. So instead of greeting them on the runway, we welcomed Corbin home with a Route 44 Cherry Limeade (during Happy Hour, no less!)

Corbin arrived home a bit overwhelmed after his quick weekend, still a little shocked he'd been taken by surprise. His birthday weekend met all my expectations and more. I’m indebted to these guys who took time off work and bought plane tickets to travel across the country for celebrating Corbin’s 40th.

Corbin’s parents and sister, along with our Kiwi friend Corrina, worked their tails off to make it all happen - evidently the guys consumed a crazy amount of food. But again, I love that Papa and Mama and Cameron got to be right there and a part of things.

And best of all, just a few hours after he flew Corbin home, our friend Steve surprised me with a video of the weekend. He captured and edited hours of footage into 20 minutes of creative film - and watching it made me feel like I was right there with them all.

Landed in Taos - not quite sure what's in store

Surprised by Jeff and Luke, with Purdy waiting right inside

First morning in Angel Fire, headed for a hike

Magnificent hike up to Goose Lake

Another round of surprises...shouldn't Trey be in Atlanta?!

...and in walks Cappy

A little shocking when Corbin thought he was simply turning on the hot tub...  bummer for Chris and Chris that the water really wasn't very warm (!)

Thanks for all the yummy meals, Mama, Cam and Corrina!
Happy, happy 40th birthday to my fabulous husband.  Looking forward with anticipation to the next 40!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Surprise 40th!

I'm so excited right now I can hardly stand it. Just giddy. I surprised Corbin with a 40th birthday trip, and he really, truly has no idea what he's in for. A long weekend at his parents' lodge with a few good men. 
Hudson and Corbin laughing at Steve's kidnapping antics

This morning our good friend Steve showed up at 7:15, video camera in hand. Corbin walked through our door at 7:30, home from a quick run, ready to take the kids to school. He saw Steve and grinned a funny grin, and then greeted his friend good morning, looking around for a candid camera. So while the kids giggled, backpacks ready and watching for their ride, Steve explained that he'd taken the day off, and that Corbin should too. And that he should go pack a bag with warm clothes, maybe even gloves and a hat - and no city shoes. Hud piped up and added, "Yeah, you need to take off work today AND tomorrow!" then looked up at me, a little scared he'd given too much away. But of course not - his daddy needed to pack for the whole weekend, and it added some intrigue.

I couldn't believe Corbin didn't have a clue, didn't know this was happening. We've been making plans since JUNE, but somehow have kept all the conversations and emails and texts and plane reservations under the radar, away from his attention. Amazing.

So as I write, Corbin is flying over Lubbock (I'm following their flight plan from my computer - so cool!), and I'm sure he's figured out he's going to see his parents, as they're headed for the Taos airport. But he doesn't know who's coming, and won't know until they trickle in today and tomorrow...

Who hoo!!!
I did it. 
Well, we did it.
Kim, Corbin's assistant at work, was the master-mind who took care of full work days today and tomorrow as Corbin was whisked out of town. Weeks ago Kim filled these two days with false appointments, and then continued to secretly reschedule the ones he added in.

Then all the others who have really made this weekend happen - my brothers flying in from Tulsa, Bozeman, and Atlanta, my dad from Fort Worth, and a few friends sacrificing Baylor Homecoming, TCU Homecoming, and championship little league games to celebrate Corbin's 40th. Charles and Jamie have planned a few neat things, and of course the highlight will be the yummy meals from Mama's kitchen (thanks, Cam & Corrina!) and then hopefully long talks into the night interrupted with bursts of laughter with mugs of coffee by the fire. Though there were a few who couldn't make it this weekend, my husband will be with his best friends and family, and I love that his parents and sister are a part of celebrating this milestone birthday. We'll celebrate as a family next week on his real birthday, but this is a dream for me - Corbin getting away with a few good men. 

I told Corbin this morning, without giving away where he was headed, that I've never been so excited about something I'm not even part of. And of course, not being there, I am certainly a part of it. My mind and heart are totally at Papa's Mountains this weekend, and someone better take pictures!

All packed and ready to go... somewhere??

My little brother Luke texted this pic from the plane out of Love Field - he asked if Jeff (pictured above, trying to stuff the enormous suitcase in the overhead storage) packed Corbin's clothes in his bag? Looks like they're off to a great start...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Proud Sistah

Check out this press release on my big brother:

Trey James, Xcentric’s CEO, has been selected as one of the top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Industry for the second year in a row.  Trey was chosen by Accounting Today’s editorial staff, from among hundreds of candidates, as one of the top thought leaders and changemakers in the industry.
Here is what Accounting Today had to say:
“The need for advanced technology has never been greater at CPA firms, and James and his company have taken the lead in making it available to firms in an innovative, hassle-free way.”

All three of my brothers are computer guys. I'd say computer geeks, but there's just no geek with these three. They're smart, funny, practical jokers - watch out - and the most fun people to be around ever. So Trey and Chris started this company, Xcentric, about ten years ago. Based out of Alpharetta, GA they partner with CPA firms across the country, providing technology guidance.

But business success aside, I am just proud of these guys. I watch Trey with his (really cool) wife and three little bitty kids, and I am struck by what a natural, amazing dad he is. He is constantly, gently teaching. He'll lift three-year-old Marshall on his shoulders to look at the night sky, pointing out constellations and explaining how stars work. If he's helping two-year-old Ashlyn down from her high chair, he's patiently teaching her how to wipe her own mouth, or explaining how she can put her foot on the lower rung to step down herself, or whatever. Always teaching, always patient. And then little Scarlett, not yet one, is not one to be left behind. Obviously I'm still learning her personality from brief visits and stories, but I'm thinking she's gonna take after her Mommy's FUN-NY personality.

And Chris - he's the teddy bear. Even in his 30's, he's still the quiet guy who's really the class clown- just have to get him going. In high school, our family was eating dinner one night at our regular Mexican restaurant, and I casually mentioned to Chris that I liked his class favorite picture in the yearbooks that had just come out earlier that day. My dad choked on his food, looked up at Chris, and sputtered, "Class favorite?! You mean that boy talks to people enough to get class favorite?" Hysterical laughter ensued. What I'd been privy to at that point, driving Chris around darkened neighborhood streets with all his buddies to wrap houses, with a handful of close guy friends, Chris was boisterous and hilarious. Really funny, the life of the party, even. For some reason that side rarely came out at home - something reserved for friends. So as he's gotten older, Chris' funny, engaging personality stays at a constant, whether he's with new friends or old friends or family or his own wife and daughter. Crystal is the best thing that ever happened to him, and Joy Taylor is the sweetest little gal ever, with enormous blue eyes. As her daddy says, "She's got some eyes!"  They have twin babes on the way this Spring - two more reasons to visit Bozeman.

Then there's Luke, the baby. Except he doesn't totally act like the baby. He's responsible and smart and loves his wife deeply (we all do), and is an incredible dad to his darling boys. He's also really funny, and draws people in with his genuine concern for them.

One thing I love about our family - and it's largely because of these three boys - is that we laugh when we're together. A lot. Even tender moments turn downright funny as we reflect over childhood stories:  leaving little Luke at church at not realizing it until halfway through eating our Panchos lunch around the dinner table; Trey riding his bike through our back sliding glass doors in the middle of winter, while my dad was in the hospital, so mom taped black garbage bags over the doors to keep the chill out; and a very wide-eyed Chris staring at the secret service men we picked up on I35 south on our way to visit family one Christmas - after skidding off the icey road, they jumped in our sleeping-bag strewn, kid-filled van, toting huge hand held radios and wearing black trench coats and dark sunglasses even at midnight.

Looking forward to a fun week with these guys and their families - our family - next week for Thanksgiving. One of the deepest reason for my gratitude, that my husband and children get to grow up and live life with this family.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mr. Slithery

I wish I would have just laughed. Given the chance to rewind the minutes and return to that moment in my car last Monday evening, I would have garnered all my self control and simply laughed when the black snake slithered out of the folded paper bag and onto the floorboard of my car. But as Branson gasped and I watched the sneaky reptile weave it's long, skinny self into the console between mine and my sons' feet, I was anything but humored.
Definitely not laughing.
Just moments before, we were driving along, all five of us (six if you count the snake) in my car headed home after a restful day at Bourland fishing and riding bikes and just hanging out.
Somehow I'd been convinced that the snake (whose real home was clearly at Cappy & Daboo's) needed to traverse to suburban Fort Worth for a new home. To live an a glass aquarium. Outside.
But now the fugitive was free, wriggling around on the floorboard of my car!
I pulled to the curb and hopped out of the car in disbelief that the thing had actually escaped. In my frustration, I told the kids that I was angry, but mostly angry with myself that I'd agreed to bring the stupid thing home. I said it aloud, "stupid."
The STUPID thing home.
We waited a few seconds, breathless, watching the floorboard for the periscope head. No luck.
I knew it was harmless, a greenish-black grass snake. The kids had each held it, even played with it in Daboo's driveway, so my rational mind knew it was safe. But picturing the thing wrapping itself around my ankle while driving - my mind was too small for rational thinking.
We made it home with much fear and trembling. While the rest of us unloaded the car, Branson peeked around car seats and even under the hood, looking for something black and skinny moving among the hot engine parts. Nothing. Ugh.
Later that night, trying to go to sleep, my thoughts turned to where they often turn in the dark, quiet of night, thinking back over the day and my interactions with my family, most often wishing I would have handled something differently.
Reflecting on the moment of the snake escape, I was surprised at how quickly I went from happy and laughing and joking with the kids to instant irritation. Snake or not, it was, afterall, harmless. And really, I'm not THAT scared of snakes. My husband, for example, gets much more freaked out by snakes than I do. But if you would have been in the car with me for that five minutes when I was driving home, you would have been more afraid of me than of Mr. Slithery. I lost it. This was a situation I didn't see coming, and it was totally out of my control.
Now, back up a minute, and let me say that we were coming home (with Corbin conveniently out of town) to a second de-licing party. Uh-huh. Two of my children showed up with lice a week ago, so Corbin got the job of running to Walgreens, and I got the job of shampooing and combing. Lice. Gross. So maybe, just maybe, my frustration stemmed from snakes AND lice in the same evening? It wasn't a cognitive thought, but add to that the other regular, mindless parts of my day - like cleaning not one, but two toilets before 7:30 am, not because I was cleaning house, but out of urgent necessity.
So fast forward twenty-four hours. We spent the next day driving with trepidation. We warned our entire carpool to watch out for Mr. Slithery, and on the mile-drive home from school all of us imagined we felt the thing slide down our necks, under our seats, around our wrists as we drove along. An optimist, I convinced myself that our new friend had found it's way out of the car completely.
So imagine my surprise last night when I opened my car door to run a quick errand, and right in front of me was Mr. Slithery in all his glory, sunbathing on my driver's seat. Yes, he was. Sunbathing. I don't know who had a bigger heart attack (do snakes have hearts?!) - me, startled by the black squiggly thing right where my bottom was about to be, or Mr. Slithery, sitting there minding his own business only to be awakened by a sudden, piercing shriek. It less than a blink, he was out of the car. No slithering involved. Just a PLOP onto the pavement, inches from my flip flops, then straight under the car to safety.
This time, relief washing over me, I did laugh as I imagined him lying on that shadowed concrete scared and wondering what in the world just happened. I laughed, ran my errand in a reptile-free car, then came home to clean-haired children in a house with clean toilets. Bliss!